How to Make Small Altar Cloths for CGS
Easy sewing project to outfit your church's Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Atrium with small altar cloths in all six liturgical colors. Finished product is a very fine-looking and -feeling product that will attract the attention of your little Catechists!
- Fabric: velvet fabric in the pattern of your choice (amount depends on the size of your altar display table)
- Fringe: yardage of 2" gold and/or silver chainette fringe (Amazon or craft store of your choice)
- Thread to match the fringe
- Fabric scissors
- Sewing machine
- Sewing pins/clips
How much fabric and fringe do I need?
1. Measure the top of your display altar, length and width. Decide how much fabric will look right hanging over the edge (see photo above) and add that to your length and width so that the fabric will fall evenly around all sides of the table. Consider that the fringe will also fall about 2" below the fabric line.
2. Go to Spoonflower (linked above), choose your pattern, and select "Performance Velvet". Looking at the dimensions for a fat quarter and a yard of velvet fabric, decide how much fabric you will need in each color. Order yardage in all 6 liturgical colors, or you could make two: one a "light" color (gold recommended) and one a "dark" color (red recommended).
3. Add up the lengths for each side of each cloth and determine how much fringe you will need (add about 1" per altar cloth to account for corners and beginning/end). Consider using both gold and silver fringe for the warm and cool colors (respectively). Order the fringe from an online sewing notions store (like Dove Originals Trims) or Amazon or buy it at a craft/sewing store.
Prepare the fabric
1. Machine wash warm or cool with phosphate-free detergent on a gentle or delicate cycle. Fabric may have a funny feel ("inky") when it arrives, and washing it solves that.
2. Machine dry on a low heat setting.
Cut out the Cloths
1. From the yardage you ordered, cut each color to the dimensions you decided for each cloth. Consider using the leftovers to make something else for the Atrium, like chalice and paten covers.
Make the Cloths
1. Fold the fringe (along with any threads keeping the fringe together) under itself about 1/4"-1/2" so that it will be secured when you sew it to the cloth.
2. Place the fringe on the edge of the cloth in the middle of a long side of the cloth rectangle, so the top edge of the fringe is on the cloth and the fringe is flowing freely below the edge of the fabric.
4. Using a zig-zag stitch and matching thread, sew the fringe to the edge of the fabric, aligning it as you go. The velvet and fringe are slippery; sew slowly and carefully, continually smoothing the velvet and straightening the fringe as you go. At the corners, simply fold the fringe 90* at the corner and keep on sewing all the way back to the beginning.
5. When you get a few inches from the starting point, estimate how much more fringe you'll need and carefully cut it from the remainder of your fringe. (Put a piece of tape or a clip over the raw edge of the remining fringe so it doesn't unravel!) Fold the end under itself and match the folded edge to the starting point, sewing over the joined area and backstitching.
6. Some fringe comes with a keeper on the loose ends. Gently pull the ends of the fringe out of the loops at the bottom.
7. Bring to your Atrium and enjoy the fruit of your labor!